GREEN BAY, Wis. – “Caleb is a big human being.”
That was Green Bay Packers offensive line coach Luke Butkus’ first impression of Caleb Jones, an undrafted offensive lineman from Indiana.
At 6-foot-9 and 370 pounds, it was a fair assessment.
Indeed, if Jones ever plays in a game for the Packers, he could be the biggest human being in franchise history.
At Indiana’s pro day, he measured 6-foot-8 7/8 and 370 pounds. Rounding up, that’s 6-foot-9. According to Stathead, two former offensive linemen of recent vintage, Dennis Kelly and Jared Veldheer, are tied for being the tallest Packers of all-time at 6-foot-8. The heaviest to play in a game is defensive tackle Anthony Rush, who at 361 pounds played in one game for the Packers in 2020.
The weight is an easy one to explain. His dad owns His Place Eatery in Indianapolis, which is renowned for its chicken and ribs.
“Funny story is that we recruited him at the University of Illinois and he spurned me. So, I’m still mad at him,” Butkus said at the start of the offseason practices. “I did have a dinner at his dad’s barbecue restaurant in Indianapolis so that made up for him.”
In 2020, Jones said he played at a whopping 395 pounds. He was listed at 350 for last season. That was his lightest since his sophomore year in high school.
“I’m at a really good weight that I feel a lot better at,” he told The Daily Hoosier during fall camp. “I feel faster when I’m moving. I feel like I have a lot more wind. At the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about is being able to play with nothing holding me back.”
The weight loss stemmed in part from his work with Hoosiers trainer Aaron Wellman, who was an assistant on the New York Giants’ strength staff from 2016 through 2019. There also was a realization that his NFL dreams hinged on his performance in 2021.
“He and I have had these conversations since 2017 and I think he finally in January really committed to it,” Indiana coach Joe Hiller said. “He’s a guy who when he has been in the building has always been great. He always worked – whether it would be in the weight room or on the practice field – it was always just a matter of what was he doing when he was outside of the building and the weight room. He battled that.”
The weight is one thing. The height is another. Line play is all about leverage. Usually, low man wins. At 6-foot-9, it’s hard to be the low man.
“He’s a long body, big body,” Butkus said. “You’re naturally going to be outleveraged. You’re naturally going to be a hair slower. But he’s got length. He’s athletic for a 6-9, 380-pound guy, and that’s stuff you can’t teach. Being able to punch you from right here is a little different than if you’re closer to me. Keep space so he doesn’t have to get to the quarterback. He’s working like everybody, he’s swimming like everybody but we like his traits.”
Jones started the final 30 games of his career, with 24 appearances at right tackle and six at left tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he gave up seven sacks last season.
The Packers gave him a $5,000 signing bonus.